Information Technology Committee
August 29 - 31, 2005
August 29, 2005
  1. IntroductionsPlans for dining (the group went to Coast)Roster was sent around for updating. Nina to forward to Kathy Ibendahl for updating in the system.PLC action items were given to Howard from Nina. Nina gave a report on the PLC meeting (eXtension update; task forces on faculty leadership programs; meeting next year in San Juan).Focus of the IT PLN program committee: not just CECP and eXtension but also a means for sharing ideas, technology, resources, etc. State reports
    1. Nina passed out state reports that were submitted online. Question: should Centra calls be used to share more about state happenings? That way, state report information could be reviewed at the bimonthly meetings, allowing other topics to be covered at the annual gathering. Centra is being adopted. AR, KY, OK and LA are on Texas A&M server for Centra. Texas A&M will be upgrading to ver 7.5
    2. We may want to document the use of Centra for reporting of multi-state initiatives, including the costs associated with it.
    Question: (Tim - Virginia Tech) Are any other states having private companies, like IBM, EDS, etc., telling the state they can perform IT operations for less money?
    1. Discussion: most states treat higher ed differently than regular state agencies. Purchasing rules sometimes keep outsourcing from working well or from generating significant savings. Florida looked at using outsourcers for application development. Didn't work well in the case of one mission critical application. Should look at "Best Practices" for running certain aspects of IT, including proper staffing and funding, then compare with outsourcers.
    2. Meet with Administrators to let them know what areas might make sense to outsource and/or what items to consider when looking at the possibility of outsourcing.
  2. Discussion Items
    1. Learning Management Systems (facilitator: Larry Lippke)
      1. What is the definition of an LMS vs a Course Mgt System (CMS). An LMS is more comprehensive than a CMS. There are also Managed Learning Environments (MLE). There is a site that allows you to compare multiple systems in this space: (a project of WCET).Texas A&M is using the same tool as CECP for its LMS. It has a few different things it doesn't do that they would like to have. Some LMS even let you schedule rooms based on class size, etc. Arkansas went with Educator because it is Unix based and less expensive. They didn't like WebCT. They've integrated in-service training modules with Educator. $16K for a hosted service per year. They are also developing their own modules. The problem of creating the content for the courses is generally handled outside of the LMS system. There is a big deficiency in the region because there are not many instructional designers. Texas A&M has recently hired one. Comments: Auburn - what they showed last year at PLN seemed to be different. Why are we looking into LMS? What functionality do we require? Texas A&M - from clientele standpoint, probably only need to track individual courses. But for staff, it might need to be more curricula based. NC State - wrote something in house. NC State demoed their "interim LMS". It is used by more than just NC State. They have to "propose" courses that go through an approval process. Also, they used it for registering for annual conference. It has waiting lists, pre-requisite questions, course evaluations, etc. It tracks which people took which courses, although the instructor has to provide this information into the system. Arkansas - has something similar but they call it In Service training. NC State - is looking to use what eXtension gets long term, not their "interim LMS". Their current product does not do delivery. Auburn - just started using WebCT. IFAS - wanted WebCT but problems with open registration and they need a work around for authentication. They also wanted more customization for look and feel. Looking at Moodle (open source LMS). eXtension - wants someone to pilot AgLearn for use as an LMS. It's probably overkill but some places may need some of the advanced features. AgLearn is used by all 15,000 employees of the USDA. They also plan to roll it out to the public. Larry (TAMU) has volunteered to pilot AgLearn. IFAS - have to make sure someone taking an online test is actually who they say they are. eXtension is viewing LMS as primarily for extension personnel, so they want someone to take the ball and run with it.
      2. IFAS - wants more content management support for learning modules. Modules that include simulations, animations, etc should be programmed as a web service so other modules can re-use it.
      1. All institutions indicated some use of video conferencing. IFAS - other interested groups within the U of F system. Auburn - getting requests from outside. Texas A&M - there is a system-wide organization that runs the video conference network. Virginia Tech - bought Breeze presenter and webcams. This was the low cost solution that works well for them. Arkansas - they manage to keep counties off of the state OTM radar so they don't have to go through that agency. This saves about $100K per year. K-12 just bought 250 endpoints. IFAS - they use Polycoms with small built in MCUs. They use a Radvision MCU to connect more than 4 locations. AR - wants to pilot video. They will be piloting using video cameras with Centra with 30 faculty. Virginia Tech - Centra and Breeze are easy to use so they can be used poorly. Should limit sessions to 10 or fewer connections. Go for: "No 'I talk, You listen'." Auburn - different instructors were used for a series of small grain seminars. Some were good, some could have used improvement. Not always related to the technology being used as to how well they "instruct". With a 1-to-many session, they were successful with turning off audio and using text chat.
      2. IFAS - is anyone doing High definition video conferencing? They're communications dept wants high def. A company that is offering new HD technology was founded by some ex-Polycomm folks.
      Content Management Systems
      1. Dwayne sent his notes to Nina. He found several different types of CMS systems. He came up with advantages and disadvantages. Arkansas - considering outsourcing because they have no resources. LSU - did a short demo of their CMS. Auburn - looking for something UNIX based. Luminous/Documentum comes with an Oracle system the main campus bought. Luminous integrates well with Banner. Texas A&M - has done a little with Mambo. Learning curve is steep. Seems to have significant capabilities. IFAS - need standards for exchanging data. Virginia Tech - do they need to get Linya to maintain national compatibility? eXtension - everyone doesn't need to be on the same system. Need to look at data interchange. Deliverables include offering hosting for other institutions, plus they want to be able to take any product they produce and give it out. IFAS - more than text and pictures. Also need to look at the success of search using std key words. North Carolina - Cyfernet uses NAL Thesaurus. Combo of NAL, common terms and prior-used terms would be better. Louisiana - trying to get folks to look at other ways to get information out to their constituents.
      2. North Carolina - anyone looking at multi-language? Yes, but they are using a translation (free) package and then a translator proofs and approves.
      Reporting Systems
      1. Virginia Tech did a demo of their new system. They took the approved form of the promotion and tenure doc and put it online. They can load Hatch Impact statements and then send info to U of Vt (next year). Faculty merit adjustment will be made from this system so they can get some compliance for Hatch impact statements. Also, VT did a demo of the FAEIS System. Talked about the CSREES OneSolution. Greg Crosby is the contact person for that.
      2. Nina - maybe we invite Greg to our next Centra call to do a presentation.
    2. Group Collaboration
      1. Virginia Tech - using Wikis and blogging. They also have a Master Online Educator Certificate Program which teaches faculty how to teach online. Jotspot - is a purchased service (wiki). May have to be concerned with what info is posted because of FERPA. $50/month for 2000 pages.
      2. Arkansas - approval process for requested blogs? VT - no.

August 30, 2005
  1. Reviewed informational item from the PLC (Nina).eXtension update from Kevin Gamble
    1. Spent last 6 months on business plan, budget, hiring staff. Reviewed long range plan and milestones.Will probably put a hosting RFP out next year. Software development: using Lenya, Cocoon and uPortal right now.
    2. Using wiki technology for FAQ internally, then CMS to publish.
    CECP Review (Larry Lippke)
    1. Current organization of categories was reviewed. Virginia Tech - should we use the standard ag CIP codes used by USDA? Texas A&M - Program committees would have to review. IFAS - should we coordinate efforts for taxonomy across all of these areas? May need to bring this issue to the CECP Steering Committee then possibly to PLC, PLN for review. Arkansas - do we have any IT modules complete? Kentucky - Jamie can continue with modules that Craig started. Louisiana - can look at LSU Information Security modules and possibly add to CECP. Virginia Tech showed CIP codes at
    2. Want to put "taxonomy" on our plan of work.
    Finish Special Topics
    1. CRM - Kappie led a discussion. VT, Auburn asked to be included in the planning grant with eXtension (currently just La and Iowa). IFAS - mentioned PDA software they have for tracking contacts that is not being supported anymore. Might be worthwhile for them to send it out for other states to review. The issue of skills and competencies as it relates to "Ask the Expert" was discussed. No decisions made. eXtension - may look at other portal packages. Using the planning grant for CRM functions because they can't get to it right now. Portals/Personalization - a couple of people are looking but no one has implemented anything yet. Texas A&M - showed a website with a video conference site inventory for a large number of states. For some states, such as Florida, they need to look at linking the TAMU site to the individual state databases to reduce duplicate entry.
    2. Document Imaging - TAMU is getting ready to release an RFP. Probably will spend $500 - $700K.
    1. Elected Kappie as secretary for coming year. Rhonda Conlon will advance to vice-chair, Howard Beck will advance to chair.
  2. Plan of Work Update
    1. Old Business
      1. CECP Modules - assigned contact person for each module so they can get completed and loaded into CECP.
        1. Distance Ed and Master Online Educator - Nina (AR) and Tim (VT) Information Security - Kappie (LA) and Ann (Auburn) Acrobat - John (TN)
        2. Web Technologies - Jamie (KY)
          1. this includes web design, writing for the web, wikis and video
        Video Conference Inventory - Tom (IFAS), Larry (TAMU) Howard will email his XML Whitepaper to the listserv.
      2. Action item: suggest to eXtension that the data modeling and Web service specialists being hired for eXtension work with an advisory group from throughout Extension to look at XML standards for eXtension. Also, suggested this same team could begin reviews of LMSs now and make a lot of progress in a short timeframe.
    2. New Business
      1. Look at CECP taxonomy in relation to authority term standards such as CIP codes and NAL thesaurus to see if we can use them. "Concept Map" topic item will be added. In that category will be 1) reviewing taxonomies, 2) role of the NAL thesaurus, 3) review of CIP codes, and 4) get librarians together. Kappie will send to the committee what meta-data fields are required in the LSU AgCenter CMS system. This committee can also look at the eXtension intranet where they list the metadata requirements.
      2. Develop a step by step guide to evaluating outsourcing as an option. Who has outsourced anything and why? To be discussed at bimonthly meetings.

August 31, 2005

Review of PLC Meeting

  1. Discussion of creating an MOU for sharing resources during disasters. A definite lack of instructional designers in many states to help with CECP modules. Questions on CECP:
    1. Why move it if it's already working in a local system? Answer: so it can be shared with other institutions. Why put it in CECP if it will have to be moved to eXtension? We have to make sure content is exportable or find out how exportable it is. Maybe give CECP committee guidelines on how to create content so it is more exportable.
    2. A new item for the plan of work was created to review the situation regarding the relationship between CECP On-Line and eXtension hosting platforms.
    Nina will help to get an electronic copy of the final CECP review form out to the committee. PLC winter meeting will be in Atlanta in late Nov. Communication PC has asked that keynote be on disaster recovery. Reviewed Plan of Work again. Focus on CECP modules. Next Committee call probably mid-October.
  2. Adjourn